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Former high school teacher faces new sexual touching allegations

BY KEITH LACEY klacey@northernlife.ca A university student broke down recalling how a former high school teacher said no one would believe her if she told anyone about their ?special relationship.
BY KEITH LACEY

A university student broke down recalling how a former high school teacher said no one would believe her if she told anyone about their ?special relationship.?

Paul Bedard, 40, is on trial facing three counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual exploitation against the girl, who was a 15-year-old Grade 10 student from St. Benedict?s Catholic Secondary School four years ago.

The girl testified Bedard hugged and kissed her, rubbed his hand up her leg and under her school uniform, and on two occasions grabbed her hand and licked it while in classroom when students were watching a movie.

Recalling one incident near the final day of school in 2001, she said Bedard asked her to help clean out a gym class storage locker.

On two seperate occasions, Bedard ended up grabbing her around the waist and asking her how she?d react if he kissed her.

Both times she replied ?you are not going to do that,? she said.

She became emotional when recalling how Bedard warned her to never tell anyone about their involvement.

?He told me ?you can never tell anyone about this...if you say something to anyone, no one will believe you,? she testified.

Bedard further warned her he?d lose his job and his marriage if she told anyone about what had happened, she said.

In October of 2004, Bedard handed in his resignation at St. Benedict?s after being cleared of all criminal charges against another young female student.

In that matter, Bedard had charges of sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching and sexual exploitation withdrawn several days into a trial.

Bedard resigned and submitted his teaching certificate to the Ontario College of Teachers.

The Crown doesn?t withdraw charges so early in a high-profile case if the complainant is a strong and reliable witness, said defence counsel William Markle, who is again representing Bedard at this trial.

Bedard left the teaching profession because he and his family were emotionally exhausted, and he could not endure a similar experience in the future, said Markle at the time.

Justice John Poupore of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered a ban on publication of any evidence that could identify any Crown witness in this case.

The complainant testified she had great respect for Bedard before these incidents took place.

?I thought he was a really good teacher and I got along well with him...I really liked him,? she said.

She was suffering from low self-esteem at the time. Bedard provided continual positive reinforcement, she said. ?He was just very nice to me and always offered support...he seemed like a person I could look up to,? she said. ?I confided in him.?

On several occasions, Bedard would sit beside her in class and grab her knee under her school uniform and move his hand up the full length of her leg, she said.

?They all occurred in the same manner,? she said.

Bedard would engage in casual conversation during these events and she didn?t react at the time, she said.

While her class was watching a movie near the end of the school year in June of 2001, Bedard sat beside her, grabbed her hand and licked it. He did the same thing 10 minutes later, she testified. ?I was shocked. I didn?t expect it,? she said.

At the end of the school year in June of 2001, she gave him her e-mail address. They exchanged a few e-mails before Bedard sent one inviting her to his home to watch movies while his wife was away, she said.

He sent another e-mail right after this saying he had ?crossed the line? and told her to disregard the previous invitation, she said.

The complainant was expected to spend most of Tuesday on the stand during cross-examination by Markle.

The trial continues today.